Pakistan is fast approaching towards pre-COVID-19 normalcy as the new cases and active infections continue to drop. Let us take this opportunity to thank Allah Almighty and appreciate the effective controls and our stronger immunity, albeit for mysterious reasons. The situation also justifies a retrospective analysis of the past six months to see if we have achieved anything from these circumstances. This is pertinent to relate Steve Jobs’ “Connecting the dots theory” here which states that hardships in life ultimately lead to favorable results if you trace them back heedfully. Endorsing this idea, Religion also encourages us to consider every suffering as a test that bears fruits later. COVID-19 enforced lockdown may also have benefited many of us in different ways through some general themes could be drawn regardless.
Handling psychological shock: This pandemic is unprecedented and caused extraordinary anguish for the right reasons. Nevertheless, the psychological reaction to any frightening moment may be a fight or flight approach. Flight mode prompts anxiety and panic while fight mode works on solutions no matter what. Even during the toughest times which brought the world to halt, the fight approach advocated that we would overcome COVID-19 through coordinated social measures, hygiene, and lockdowns. The doomsayers, on the contrary, continued to sprout horrors by equating COVID-19 with the apocalypse, population control scheme, and biological warfare. This is time to look back and see which category you fit in: Did you take on your nerves the frightening statistics of deaths or remained focused on things under your control? The latter is a pragmatic approach and should be followed in the future.
Prudent Spending: The lockdown ‘forced’ us to avoid many extravagant activities that already remained in our radar but continued to survive, in fact, thrive, mainly due to peer pressure. Perhaps, the worst example is of grandeur displayed in wedding ceremonies, even at expense heavy debt. The lockdown not only invited us to observe austerity but also revive the true religious spirit of these programs. Moreover, closed malls and shopping stores encourage us to contrast between essentials and articles we used to buy under the influence of consumerism tactics.
Procrastinated pursuits: The lockdown offered a self-check to validate excuses for the paucity of time for long-pending productive activities such as book reading, exercise, learning new languages, online courses, cooking, etc. We need to see how we fared on such plans as it will help us filter out the true interests and follow only them.
Developing Empathy: Pakistan stands among the most generous countries worldwide by many criteria. This pandemic also saw welfare foundations receiving overwhelming response from generous people. Apart from charitable organizations, many donation campaigns were initiated on a personal basis to reach out to the poor.
Certain regions of the world have endured brutal lockdowns and violence for ages. The unresolved grievances of Kashmir, Palestine, and Syria pose a big question mark against UNO and other champions of democracy. People of these countries already engulfed in humanitarian crises saw no exception to COVID-19. It is high time to develop empathy for these nations, regardless of what we can do for them, as this virus has let us through a similar pain of being locked in. The galvanized spirit of charity and empathy should not fade away when the pandemic is gone.
Leadership Test: COVID-19 was a ‘crisis test’ to screen out capable and sincere leaders. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, we saw a rift between provinces and center on many issues for political gains. On the other front, there were those who sincerely strived for the right balance between ‘lives and livelihoods’. For instance, the scheduled opening of petrol pumps and shopping malls (with weekends off) proved phenomenal in controlling the spread of infection.
On the international stage, the leaders from the USA, UK, and Brazil were the examples not to follow given their miscalculation for the severity of the pandemic. Especially, the futile attempt to associate COVID-19 with a country – recall the Chinese virus – uncovers ugly priorities of so-called leadership. Instead, the otherwise less prominent countries like Vietnam, Taiwan, New Zealand have emerged as role models.
Work from Home: The feedback of majority for working from home is more than encouraging, thanks to robust online applications. Interruptions related to the internet and power were the main downside which, nevertheless, could still be managed. Since lockdown has demonstrably established the efficacy of online work, many organizations are evaluating optimized workforce models offering huge cost optimization such as reduced utility tariffs and rentals. Thus, lockdowns are expected to introduce some irreversible change in working patterns for the mutual benefit of companies and employees.
Family bonding: Striking balance between boss and spouse has always been a challenge! While the bulky books on this subject remain modestly effective, the microbe gave brilliant chances to satisfy both. We can look back and relish the quality time spent with children, spouses, and parents and move on to further cultivate the relationships based on better understanding.
Pakistan’s current situation surely calls for a prudent celebration that we have sailed through the worst times with relatively less collateral damage. Moving forward, we should continue the good habits and see how we can utilize learnings from lockdown.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.